Monday, August 24, 2009

My T-Mobile Sidekick Died

Sidekick id My cell phone died the other day. I plugged it into the charger and left it on the shelf. A couple of hours later, I noticed that it only had one bar, and wasn't recharging. I tried plugging the charger into another wall jack; no dice. Then I tried putting the sidekick on my car charger; still no luck. That phone is D.E.D. dead.

Actually, it's not quite the tragedy that it might sound. The phone itself is about 2 years old. And more importantly, since I'm going to Iraq again next month I was only going to be using the sidekick for a short time anyway (hoping the next version of the "myTouch" will be out by the time I get back next spring).

Anyway, it's obviously not worth fixing the sidekick. And the warranty has long since expired ... although I am technically still eligible to use the warranty since I have (stupidly) been paying for insurance since I've had the phone (I'll do another post soon about what a dumb idea cell phone insurance is ... hint: they don't tell you that the deductible is usually about as much as the phone is worth anyway). This was a possible solution for about 5 minutes, until I discovered that the little pad underneath where the screen flips up is bright pink instead of white. This indicates that my phone has been exposed to water at some point. Which means, the warranty is void.

So, what I ended up with is a cheap phone to get me by for the next week or so.

And with that solution come my Todd's Tip for this post:

If you ever need a cheap phone, to replace either another cheap phone, or an expensive one you can't afford to replace; you DO NOT have to go to the t-mobile store. You don't even have to go to ebay or craigslist (although that is an option). Instead, just head over to BestBuy or Walmart, or any other store that sells t-mobile prepaid cell phones.

These phones cost around 1/2 to 1/3 as much as the exact same phone in the t-mobile store at the "without contract" price. (I was actually given this hint by a very nice guy who works in the t-mobile store in Florida when I was getting a new phone for my son to replace the blackberry he lost last year).

So for the next month, I'll have to get by without internet access on my phone. And when I want to text message, I'll have to use the number pad, instead of the cool little keyboard that I've become an expert thumb typist on over the years. But hey, at least I only paid $29.95, and I didn't extend my contract any more. ;-)

Til next time,

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Save Money At Aloha Stadium Flea Market

Let's face it, taking a trip to Hawaii can be expensive. So while you're visiting paradise, doesn't it make sense to take advantage of some of the easier ways to save a few bucks?

The Aloha Stadium flea market has always been one of our favorite places to shop.

It's centrally located for those who live on Oahu. And just an easy car or bus ride for tourists staying in Waikiki. It's open every Saturday and Sunday (when there's not a football game), and on Wednesdays. The vendors are usually there pretty early in the morning, so if you can get there by about 8am, you can beat the heat later on in the day. The swap meet closes at around 3pm every day, but some vendors start packing around 1:30 or 2 ... especially if it's slow ... sometimes a good opportunity to barter the prices even lower.

There are a wide variety of things that you can get from aloha stadium flea market including: fresh fruit, art, souvenirs, beach towels, clothes, and even such unique items as post card coconuts.

If you're a tourist visiting Hawaii, definitely hit the flea market before you buy any trinkets from Waikiki locations such as the International Market Place. Often you will find EXACTLY the same items, but for many times 1/2 to 1/3 of the cost.

[caption id="attachment_308" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="Aloha Stadium flea market"]Aloha Stadium flea market[/caption]When we lived there, the main thing we visited the swap meet for was t-shirts and sweatshirts ... both for ourselves, and to send back to the mainland as gifts. Seriously, where else are you going to be able to get 8 t-shirts for $20? Shhh, don't tell any of my friends/family about it, but this is really fun around Christmas time. People in the mainland are thrilled to death when you send them an article of clothing that says Hawaii on it ... and they never have to know that you only paid $2.50 for it ;-)

One of the other cool things you can at Aloha Stadium can be seen right up there in the header image of this blog. There are some amazing artists in a few of those booths (often the same ones you'll find on the street down in Waikiki). You can a banner with your name, or pretty much any word you want, for as little as $1-$3 per letter. It's a great unique memento ... and it's really amazing to watch as the artist paints the banner ... the one above is about 10x that size as it hangs on our walls, and probably took the guy between 5 and 10 minutes to paint.

After stocking up on clothes and art, a great last stop before you head back home, or to your hotel, is at one of the little shave ice stands ... another uniquely Hawaiian tradition.

I hope you enjoy yourself if you decide to take my advice and swing by the stadium.


Friday, August 14, 2009

I Had No Internet For Five Weeks

... and it didn't kill me !

Actually, it was kind of hard for the first week or so. The only way I could get online was when my t-mobile sidekick occasionally decided to get a good enough data connection. (definitely not while inside my dorm room). But really, since I was so busy during the long days, by the time I got back to my room, I was usually ready for bed anyway.

That being said, I did find a few things interesting ...

While I was offline, not only did I survive, but my "web presence" actually didn't fair too badly either.

Average daily visitors to this blog has actually increased over the past 60 days, despite the fact that they last update took place well over a month ago.

Not only that, but even my twitter count (while relatively modest at just over 700) looks to have held it's own ... very surprising given the fact that I didn't follow anybody new, and only posted a grand total of 4 tweets during the time I was gone.

The main "take away" ...

I have to question whether the 3-5 hours a day that I normally spend online is really all that value adding.

Obviously I enjoy connecting with my online friends. But if it's possible to do it effectively in minutes a day; as opposed to hours, then why in the world wouldn't I devote some of that extra time to my family in and friends in the "real world"?

Just something to ponder.


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